Summary of first 150 Pages
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an American classic, published in 1876. It was the first novel by Mark Twain. As the title indicates, this is an account of mischievous adventures of the novel’s hero, a young boy named “Thomas Sawyer”.
The plot unfolds in the first chapter, painting Tom as a very naughty and troublesome, yet intelligent boy. He lives with his maternal aunt “Aunt Polly” as his mother has died. His cousins Sid and Mary also live with him. Aunt Polly is a very kind lady and genuinely loves Tom. Tom lives in the “poor little shabby village of St. Petersburg” as described by Mark Twain.
In the second chapter, Aunt Polly makes Tom whitewash the fence as a punishment. Tom very cleverly turns it into a very interesting task and makes other boys finish the work for him. The author gives a very interesting definition of work and play in this chapter: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do” (Twain).
The highlights of the third chapter are Tom’s forgetting his one week old crush Amy Lawrence and falling in love at first sight with a new girl in town. This is a humorous account. In the next chapter, Tom wins the Bible as a prize during Sunday school in the church through fraud and surprises everyone. Another surprise follows when he wrongly answers a basic question about the Bible.
The story continues with episodes of mischief, boyish mood swings, and childish pranks. Tom tries to invent a sickness to skip school, like all little children do at some point in time. The character of Huckleberry Finn is introduced in the sixth chapter. Huckleberry is the son of the town drunkard and described as “idle, and lawless, and vulgar and bad” in the novel (Twain). All mothers dislike him and forbid their boys to play with him. The master punishes Tom for coming late to school. Tom confesses that he is late because he stopped to talk to Huckleberry on the way to school. The protagonist cleverly gets the desired punishment of sitting in the girls’ section, next to his new love Becky Thatcher. He succeeds in communicating his feelings of love to the girl in this very first meeting.
Chapter seven begins with a beautiful description. The phrases like “flaming sunshine” and “tinted with the purple of distance” bring magical images to mind. Tom’s best friend Joe Harper enters the story at this stage. Tom arranges a secret meeting with Becky during school recess, and both become “engaged”. However, the boy’s love story ends quickly when he mentions Amy to Becky by mistake.
Tom’s adventures in the book continue with boyish fancies, like dreaming of becoming a pirate and then playing Robin Hood with Joe in the forest. The story takes a serious turn when Tom and Huckleberry witness the doctor’s murder in the graveyard at night. The murderer Injun Joe makes Potter believe he actually committed the murder. Potter is unable to remember anything because he was drunk. Tom and Huckleberry are too scared to tell the truth. They promise each other to keep it a secret.
Tom becomes melancholy and stops taking an interest in things when Becky becomes sick. Her aunt treats her in all possible ways known to her. She even orders the newly invented painkiller. At last, Tom gets over this mood. Becky returns to school but still does not talk to him. This breaks Tom’s heart.
Heartbroken, Tom decides to run away. Joe also is unhappy having fought with his mother. Tom, Joe, and Huckleberry take a raft at night and go to Jackson’s Island, three miles from their village. They plan to fulfill their dreams of becoming pirates. Initially, they enjoy the experience and freedom. However, after some time they start missing home. People assume that the three boys have drowned, and a search party consisting of many boats starts looking for them. The boys feel important. Tom crosses the river and returns to his home at night to check the sentiment of coming home. He finds his family missing him and wishing they treated him better. Joe’s mother Mrs. Harper is also at Tom’s house and expressing the same emotions. Tom returns to his friends on the island.
The adventures on Jackson’s Island continue while homesickness grows. At one point, Joe and Huckleberry want to return home, but Tom refuses. Both boys learn how to smoke from Huckleberry but become sick later and vomit. They face a terrible storm, and their tent is blown away. The boys take refuge under a giant tree. Later, they make a second attempt at smoking and do not get sick this time.
The boys’ funeral takes place at the village church on Sunday. Everyone feels sad, and even Becky is ashamed of her cold attitude towards Tom. All people sing praises for the three presumably dead boys. However, the boys walk into the church right in the middle of their funeral service and surprise everyone. Tom and Joe receive welcoming hugs. At Tom’s insistence, Aunt Polly embraces Huckleberry as well.
Tom makes Aunt Polly believe that he had a dream on the island. He tells her the things, which he really saw when sneaked back to the village at night. This amazes and impresses Aunt Polly. After the Jackson’s Island adventure, some more lovers’ quarrels take place. Both Tom and Becky try to arouse the feelings of jealousy in one another by showing interest in other partners.
Overall, Mark Twain narrates the story in a very entertaining manner. He captures the reader’s interest right from the beginning. The language is free-flowing, and there is simple humor in everyday events. The book describes silly childish beliefs and dreams in the most unusual way. While reading, one feels like it relates to every person’s childhood to some extent. Thus, this book should be read by all literature lovers.
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